Below is a post from Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Division, announcing details about a major new update to the Xbox dashboard and the launch of Xbox SmartGlass, which brings games, music, TV and movie experiences off the console and onto your phone, tablet and PC.
Steve Ballmer recently stated that 2012 will be “the most epic year in Microsoft’s history.”
Not only do we have major releases coming to the PC, tablet and phone, but we have worked extremely hard to ensure those screens work together with the other major screen in peoples’ lives, the television. People often call out the role Microsoft design style is playing in this new wave of experiences from the company. Whether you are using a phone, PC, tablet or console that is running our software you have an experience that is distinctively Microsoft, elegant, intuitive and integrated.
Now, there is another common thread that ties all of these experiences together – Xbox entertainment.
Today marks the beginning of two major launches for Xbox entertainment.
First, on top of what is the greatest year for games in Xbox history, beginning today a brand new update will roll out broadly for every Xbox 360 owner in the world that brings entirely new TV entertainment experiences. We are bringing the Web to the TV like never before with Internet Explorer, launching a brand new music service, and making it even easier to find the entertainment you love using Kinect and Bing voice search. This release is the next step in our journey to transform Xbox 360 from a games console to an all-in-one entertainment system.
Second, we are bringing Xbox Entertainment off the console to your phone, tablet and PC to deliver great games, music, TV and movie experiences. And as a part of this effort with Xbox SmartGlass we are going to introduce amazing multi-screen entertainment experiences.
Back in June, we talked about how this is the year Xbox becomes the premium entertainment service for Microsoft. While our success with Xbox to date has been led by a box in the living room, we’re now reaching individuals in new and exciting ways across PCs, tablets and phones. Xbox will be a gateway to the best in movies, TV shows, music, sports, your favorite games and instant access to your friends, wherever you are.
This week, with the launch of Windows 8, followed shortly thereafter by Windows Phone 8 devices, we’ll flip the switch on that transformation with the launches of four new experiences that make entertainment better on every screen in your life:
· Xbox Music,
· Xbox Games; and
At that moment, we will rapidly accelerate the reach of Xbox entertainment from more than 67 million consoles to literally hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. Also this week, we will take our biggest step ever to increase our global reach, extending Xbox entertainment experiences to 222 countries from 35.
We realize some may ask, “Why are all these apps called Xbox, isn’t Xbox just a game console?” For us the decision to have Xbox stand for our broad entertainment efforts was a simple one. It is a natural evolution of our consumer offering. Even as Xbox has become the number one game console in the world, and continued to deliver arguably the best line up of games in our history, we have seen the use of Xbox broaden to watching TV/movies and listening to music.
During the last couple of years, we have grown our global entertainment portfolio to more than 62 TV and entertainment partners. Our Xbox LIVE subscribers now spend more time enjoying entertainment apps than multiplayer games. And this is occurring even when multiplayer gaming is also growing on our console.
Also, we live in a multi-device world. The millions of people enjoying entertainment on their Xbox are doing so within arm’s reach of another device. We believe your entertainment should travel seamlessly across devices, that devices should work together to make your entertainment more accessible and create entirely new experiences. We knew we needed a single name for all entertainment experiences from our company and nothing means entertainment at Microsoft more than Xbox.
Xbox SmartGlass is a great example of our approach to multi-screen entertainment. With SmartGlass we are focusing on two key objectives:
1. Make discovering and controlling your entertainment simple, no matter the device you’re using; and
2. Ensure you get more from your entertainment experience.
Xbox SmartGlass is a free downloadable app that takes your Windows 8 and RT tablets and PCs, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices, and converts them into smart second screens for the entertainment you are enjoying through your Xbox.
Today, we are unveiling our first wave of experiences and partners for Xbox SmartGlass. They are the first of many to become available over the coming months.
Navigate your Entertainment – Your phone and tablet will become the best remote controls in your house. Use the touch screen on your smartphone or tablet to control your Xbox 360, and use your devices to pause, rewind or advance entertainment.
TV & Movies – With Xbox Video, start a TV show or movie on your Windows 8 tablet and finish it on the big screen through Xbox 360; see the names of cast and crew for the film you are watching and discover related films. To give you one example of what you can expect, coming next season, HBO GO’s “Game of Thrones” will offer groundbreaking Xbox SmartGlass experiences.
Sports – While watching the game, use a second screen to follow real-time stats, player bios, news and highlights you may have missed. All of this and more will be available for NBA Game Time, ESPN and UFC in the coming months.
Music – Control your Xbox Music experience on the TV using your smartphone or tablet, discover related artists and songs, cue up additional music, read artist bios and more.
Internet Explorer for Xbox - The Web comes to TV like never before with Xbox 360 and Xbox SmartGlass. With your smartphone or tablet, pan or pinch and zoom to explore the Web on the largest and best screen in the house, enjoy easy text entry with the keyboard on your tablet or phone, and then move your browser back to your device to take it on the go.
Games – Get more from your game when you can use a second screen. Turn you phone or tablet into a virtual GPS in Forza: Horizon. Don’t stop the dance party in Dance Central 3 by going back to the menu to choose your next song. Instead, queue it up on your tablet or smartphone. In HomeRun Stars, use SmartGlass on your favorite device to throw a surprise pitch to your friend up at bat in front of Kinect. See detailed stats on how you are progressing in Halo 4, or check up on friends. All of these features and much more will be available when your favorite game extends to multiple screens.
And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. In the future, new games will be created, TV shows and movies will be re-imagined, and sports will be broadcast from the ground up with Xbox SmartGlass in mind.
Moreover, we are making it easier than ever to buy an Xbox 360 console. Starting this fall, we are rolling out the “Entertainment for All” pricing plan that enables you to buy an Xbox 360 for $99 when you sign up for 2 years of Xbox LIVE. Entertainment For All Plan will include U.S. retailers: Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, Toys R Us and the Microsoft Store.
With these new technologies, services and pricing, Xbox entertainment has never been:
· More simple and engaging
· Available on so many new devices; and
· More affordable.
So, yes, this is certainly an epic year for Microsoft. But more importantly, it’s an epic time for all of you that love amazing entertainment.